Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe for Kids, Some Are Skeptical

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According to Albert Bourla, Pfizer's chief executive, the findings of a clinical trial, which puts the pair ahead of other Western vaccine developers in the race to protect children, the vaccine will likely be used in that community before the next school year. 

Some are skeptical, but Pfizer says their COVID-19 vaccine for kids is reliable and produces robust antibody responses in 12 to 15-year-olds, paving the way for them to seek US and European approval in the coming weeks to use the shot in this age group.

One of the crucial questions drug makers are trying to address is whether COVID-19 vaccines function and are safe to use on infants. Inoculating children and teenagers is seen as a critical move toward achieving "herd immunity" and containing the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of over 2.9 million people and contaminated 128.3 million.

According to Dr. Peter English, a former specialist in infectious disease management, young people are less likely to have severe disease and are more likely to have asymptomatic infection, spreading the disease to others.

READ: COVID-19 Vaccine: What To Do If You Are Vaccinated, and Your Kids Are Not

Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine is now approved for use in people as young as 16 years old. The latest research is the first to demonstrate how the vaccine functions in school-aged adolescents.

The vaccine was well tolerated, with side effects close to those seen in the adult trial for those aged 16 to 25. The companies did not report the younger group's side effects, but the adult trial's side effects ranged from mild to severe. They included injection-site discomfort, headaches, fever, and fatigue.

The companies also looked at a group of teenagers to see how many virus-neutralizing antibodies they had a month after the second dose and discovered that it was similar to the research participants aged 16 to 25 in the pivotal trial in adults.

In the coming weeks, Bourla said, the company will seek emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and other regulators.

Israel, which is leading the world in vaccine rollout, announced shortly after the news that it would begin delivering the shot to teenagers if the FDA gave it the green light.

Israel, which is leading the world in vaccine rollout, announced shortly after the news that it would begin delivering the shot to teenagers if the FDA gave it the green light.

ALSO READ: Kids Infected With COVID-19 Experience Long Term Symptoms

More details on the COVID-19 vaccine for kids

Scientists applauded the news, which was not published in a medical journal or subjected to peer review, but said more information was required.

"It will be important to do this (vaccinate younger people to gain herd immunity)," English, a former chair of the British Medical Association's Public Health Medicine Committee, said.

The first vaccine doses were given last week in a series of trials testing the vaccine in younger children, with the immunization ultimately being given to children as young as six months of age.

Rivals are now putting their shots to the test on children.

Moderna Inc launched a trial this month to test its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged six months to less than 12 years. However, Johnson & Johnson has yet to start a planned trial on children despite recently receiving approval for its vaccine in adults.

Children were excluded from a mid-to-late stage trial of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom in December.

READ MORE: Sinovac's COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe for Kids, According To Initial Data

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